I have agreed to join the new Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, established by the government.

For the very first time, independence will be considered officially. I hope I can help shape this crucial discussion and I would urge everyone to get involved.

I’m part of the independence movement. No surprise there. But I’m clear that any decision we take as a nation must be based on evidence not emotion. And more importantly, independence is not an end in itself, but a means to a more equal and prosperous future. It also gives us the opportunity to do things differently, rather than tinker at the edges.

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A quarter of Welsh people and a third of Welsh children live in poverty, the highest of any UK nation. Why? Because wages in Wales are lower in every sector of the economy than in the rest of the UK.

At the same time Wales is paying towards the extra £96 billion for HS2 in England. That’s on top of paying towards the £37 billion for an ineffective and corrupt track and trace system. With climate change coming down the line, my view is that we have little choice but to do things differently.

And we can. We have an abundance of natural resources, such as wind, hydro and tidal energy, that should be for our benefit but isn’t. Take the example of offshore wind farms which profit the royal family via the Crown Estate, rather than people in Wales. That cannot be right. 

READ MORE: Welsh councils have ‘no power’ to make some coal tips safe

Of course, the commission will not give us the answers and that’s not what we should expect. What it can do is allow us to talk about the future of Wales in a constructive and respectful way. That’s important for me. Far too much of our political discourse is confrontational and puts many people off. Keep to the evidence and hopefully we can seek out the voices we don’t normally hear from, because they are the very people we need to engage with.

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The commission’s first meeting is next week. Hopefully public meetings will begin in the new year and be held in communities everywhere. This is a two year process so there’s plenty of time to get involved and there will be information on ways to feed in. 

Meanwhile, Scotland will likely vote on its future in the next few years and that will inevitably change Wales’ constitutional position because the UK will cease to exist.

Do we become an appendage of England? Or do we start to think about an alternative?

My hunch is that life as an appendage would be even worse than it is now for many people. We lost out in the past when coal was king. All we’ve been left with is ill health and unstable coal tips. We cannot afford to lose out again. 

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